KIF footballers team up to take on Oahu

LIHUE — Several footballers in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation have teamed up to take on Oahu.

Local youth soccer club Rush Kauai 99 will compete in the 18-and-under boys division at the US Youth Soccer Hawaii Cup, which begins today at the Waipio Soccer Complex.

“The goal was to really unite the island and take an all-Kauai team,” said assistant coach and manager Rick Leibow during Thursday’s practice at the North Vidinha Soccer Fields.

“These boys are all U-18s. It’s ‘99 and younger. We have a mix of boys from Kapaa, Kauai High, Island and (one player) from Kauai Christian Academy,” he said.

Some members of Rush Kauai 99 played varsity this past KIF soccer season. The team has been working together since the end of the KIF boys soccer season in January.

“The team’s going good,” said goalkeeper Kamuela Numazawa, who is a senior at Kauai High and was the starting goalie for the varsity Red Raiders this past season.

“The chemistry is getting better. We’re getting along better as a team,” Numazawa said. “We’re all from different schools. … Playing against each other was fun. It was very physical and intense. Now that we got a little bit of each player from each team, it’s going good.”

First place winners will earn a berth at the USYS Regionals in Seattle, which begins in June.

“The goal here is to get these boys exposure,” Leibow said. “Basically, if we win on Oahu, we get to go to Seattle — which is a really big deal. There’s like 100 coaches there. The whole idea is that most of these guys are in eleventh and twelfth grade and to get them exposure to college coaches.

“And then the younger kids like (Coby Simon), he’s a tenth grader. It’s great opportunity for him for other coaches on Oahu to see him,” he continued. “By playing up, even though he’s playing against older boys, it shows a lot of experience.”

Numazawa said he’s previously been to competitions on Oahu and Maui, but hasn’t got the chance to play on the Mainland yet.

“It’s would be a good feeling, that we would go up there and play,” he said about if the team wins the Regionals berth. “We’re going to represent Hawaii, for sure.”

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